Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill

Response to the proposed Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill

Supplementary Order Paper 19 December 2018

Minister Sepuloni has announced the release of the SWRL Bill SOP (19 December 2018). It is publicly available on the MSD website at:  

The Bill is waiting for its Second Reading in Parliament.

Following the Second Reading, the Minister for Social Development intends to propose the Supplementary Order Paper during the Committee of the Whole House discussion on the SWRL Bill. This will happen in early 2019.

ANZASW Response to SOP 19 December 2018

Email from ANZASW CE, Lucy Sandford-Reed 19 Dec 2018

I am delighted to be able to advise you that the Social Workers Registration Legislation Supplementary Order Paper, Common Questions and Answers about the SWRL Bill and Minister Sepuloni’s press release are now available at:

While it is disappointing that the Bill did not get to Second Reading before Parliament rose for the holidays, the Bill is likely to complete Second and Third Reading and Royal Assent in the sitting sessions 12 – 21 February and / or 12 – 21 March 2019.

The Transitions timeframes:

  •  Registration will be mandatory for all social workers 2 years after the date the amended Act receives Royal Assent
  •  Section 13 (The Board may recognise practical experience) will be repealed 5 years after the date the Act receives Royal Assent
  •  The reduction to the SWRB Board from 10 members to 7 takes place 3 months after the Act receives Royal Assent.

Key aspects that are now included in the Bill:

Protection of the title “social Worker”


Scope/s of Practice & Qualifications

  • SWRB determines Scopes of Practice and must consult with stakeholders
  • Scope of Practice will be the basis of registration – scopes to be set by SWRB in consultation with the sector
  • Scopes of practice must be endorsed on an individual’s APC
  • SWRB must prescribe qualifications for each scope of practice and must consult with stakeholders

Competence and Recertification

  • NZ graduates will not be required to complete a competence assessment unless doubts have been raised about their competence to practice – effective the day after the Act receives Royal assent.
  • The requirement to recertify every 5 years is repealed – effective the day after the Act receives Royal assent.
  • No change to the competence requirements for overseas trained social workers

Professional Development

  • Professional development and professional supervision can be adopted as conditions for issuing an APC as they are now
  • SWRB to recognise ways of undertaking CPD
  • SWRB may set a fee to recognise CPD but may not set the fee for undertaking a CPD event

Mandatory reporting requirements:

  • The employer must report if they believe the SWer is not competent only after taking steps to provide assistance to improve competence, includes reporting if a SWer resigns or is dismissed due to lack of competence
  • Employer to report if they believe a SWer has engaged in serious misconduct
  • Employer must report if they believe that a SWer may be unable to satisfactorily perform the function required to practice social work because of a physical or mental condition
  • A social worker must report of they believe that a SWer may be unable to satisfactorily perform the function required to practice social work because of a physical or mental condition
  • A person may report if they believe SWer may be unable to satisfactorily perform the function required to practice social work

It is anticipated that a Policy Statement will clarify that the ability to practice and study a first recognised social work qualification concurrently will no longer be an option.

You can read the Social Work General Scope of Practice developed by SWRB July 2017 here

The Clause “Board to determine scope of practice for social work profession” comes into effect that day after the Act receives Royal Assent. This provision enables SWRB to further develop the Social Work General Scope of Practice and develop any other scopes prior to registration becoming mandatory for all social workers (2 years after the date the Act receives Royal Assent).

Unfortunately, members with a recertification falling due prior to the end of March are advised to be prepared to have to complete recertification.

The Policy on Professional Developments has not yet been developed. We however advise members to maintain their CPD Logs in line with the statutory declaration signed when your APC was renewed “I have undertaken / will undertake a range of professional development activities totalling a minimum of 20 hours in each year and have / will evidence for this in my CPD Log”.

The Online Members CPD Log can be accessed from

As the Log is member only you will need a login. If you haven’t already you need to sign up here>>. For those yet to do this and are planning to get their Log up to date over the holidays we recommend you do this, this week as it needs to be approved by us here at the ANZASW Office. The Office wil be closed from 4.30 pm 21 December, reopening 8.00 am Monday 7 January 2019.

   Social Workers need to be Registered like Doctors and Nurses, Association says (Stuff 27 April 2018)

   Social Work Bill “Nonsense” (FutureLearning 24 April  2018)

   Social Workers Fear new Bill    (Māori Television 24 April 2018)

   Social Workers call for Govt to scrap Registration Bill (Radio NZ 24 April 2018)

   Social Work in New Zealand Under Attack (IFSW 24 April 2018)

   Bill Poses threat to Social Workers (NZ Herald 23 April 2018)

   ANZASW Response to Report on Registration Legislation Bill (SCOOP 19 April 2018)

   Social Workers Fear New Bill will Remove Protections (Radio NZ 28 February 2018)

pdficon_small   2018 ANZASW Submission to Select Committee SWRL Bill Final

   New Zealand Parliament>Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill>>

This bill is an omnibus bill introduced under Standing Order 263(a). The objective of this bill is to increase the professionalism of the social work profession by increasing coverage of the regulatory regime; ensuring social workers are competent and fit to practise; and increasing the effectiveness and transparency of the way the Act works.

pdficon_small   Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill


The Social Services Select Committee that will be considering the Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill is made up of:

Jan Logie, Greens; List; Chair
Priyanca Radhakrishnan; Labour; List; Deputy Chair
Darroch Ball; NZ First; List 
Simeon Brown; National; Pakuranga
Kris Faafoi; Labour; Mana
Alfred Ngaro; National; List
Greg O’Connor; Labour; Ohariu
Louise Upston; National; Taupo
Michael Woodhouse; National; List

Summary of the Key Issues

  • It provides protection of the title of “Social Worker”
  • Initial competence assessments will only be required if there are doubts about the applicant’s competence to practice social work
  • Social Workers will not be required to complete five yearly recertification assessments
  • Professional development will become the mechanism for developing and maintaining competence

Registration will be ONLY mandatory for people:

  • Whose job description and or employment contract explicitly describes the role as “Social Worker”
  • Who call themselves a “Social Worker”
  • Who undertake ‘restricted tasks’ ie When an Act specifies the task must be done by a social worker.

People with a recognised social work qualification who are self-employed or employed in a role with a title that is not “social worker” eg Family Worker, Case Worker, Community Worker who do not claim to be a social worker, whose job description does not include the words ‘Social Worker’ and who do not do ‘restricted tasks’, will not be required to either hold an APC if they are already registered or register as a social worker.

The Cabinet Paper (Paragraph 34 P7) determined that defining social work would be difficult hence limiting registration to roles called “social work”:
“…the boundaries of what is and is not social work are not distinct from many other social service and health sector occupations, so it would be impossible to define social work without affecting a wide range of related occupations, which undertake similar tasks and require similar skills…….. licensed occupations such as real estate agents and teachers can be defined narrowly or by reference to an employer. In the health field, various tasks requiring particular skills can be defined with great precision. None of these approaches are transferable to the social work profession.”

Social work practice is clearly defined in the Global Definition of Social Work developed by IFSW, IASSW and ICSW.

As proposed, mandatory registration protects the title of social work but not the practice of social work.

The employer would have the power to define who is and is not a social worker through job descriptions and or employment contracts. If they decided that what the employee was doing was not ‘social work’ then they do not have to fund APCs, professional supervision or continuing professional development – which might be very tempting for some employers. No other professional regulatory law nationally or internationally gives the employer the power to determine whether or not their employee is practicing their profession.

People without social work qualifications could be employed in roles traditionally be considered a social work role and would not require registration. This is inconsistent with the Cabinet Paper statement (Paragraph 23 p 4)
“Given that the existing system does not fully cover the social work profession, legislative reform offers an opportunity to clearly articulate changes needed to increase professionalism of the workforce, ensure competence of social workers, and improve protections for vulnerable clients from inappropriate and potentially harmful social work practice.”

ANZASW will address the concerns in the Select Committee submission, and in particular, registration of title only and the ability to enable employers to define whether or not a role is a social work role. Your participation is encouraged as we work to protect the profession of social work.

Member opinions are invited & can be posted on or emailed to

Relevant Documents/Links